Friday, July 20, 2012

Moonrise Kingdom

Moonrise Kingdom - ****

Directed by: Wes Anderson
Starring: Jared Gilman, Kara Hayward, Edward Norton, Bruce Willis, Frances McDormand, Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman
Review:  Love him or hate him, Wes Anderson has got to be the most unique filmmaker working today.  This is not to say he’s the best or even the most innovative, but simply the most unique.  Like Stanley Kubrick or the Coen Brothers his style is immediately identifiable (and I do not take these comparisons lightly).  I’m not one of those fans who will just fall in love with everything Anderson does, but the subtle force of his method can’t be ignored.
‘Moonrise Kingdom’ may just be Anderson’s best film yet.  From the opening scene it is helmed with such precision that it’s quite apparent we’re going to be taken on an adventure that is unlike most of what we normally see.
Anderson’s protagonist is Sam, the Khaki scout who is the “least popular scout in the troop by far.”  For Sam we get no other reason for him being an outcast other than that he’s “weird.”  Weird, as defined by the standards of the other 12 year olds that are in his scout troop.  One morning the scouts wake up to find Sam gone and nobody knows his whereabouts.

Similarly, a young girl named Suzy on the other side of the island town they live in winds up missing right around the same town.  Through some investigating and snooping they learn that the two events are connected.  The reasons how and why are explored by a flashback in great detail, that I will not ruin here.
Sam and Suzy find each other and begin to start their “new” life together.  Both coming from broken or near broken homes, they set out in search of a life where they don’t have to be spectators anymore.  These two have watched and taken very careful mental notes of the world around them.  They know what they want in life and have decided to go for it instead of waiting around for things to be given to them.
Society likes to place “young people” into a box and contain within a set of easily identifiable rules.  Go to bed by 9, brush your teeth, eat your vegetables, don’t get into trouble, and so on.  These are rules that can be easily told without ever really having to be taught.  From a very young age, we are all told to do these things just because.  We don’t yet “understand” the world, and therefore have to be told how to live in it.
Such mediums of our society have been shunned by our two “heroes.”  They are constantly told that they “don’t know” and that things are “complicated.”  But for them, they know what they know and it’s not complicated.  Despite the fact that they are both 12 years old, they want to be with each other and if they know that, then what’s the problem?
In their everyday lives Sam and Suzy see the unhappy world that adults live in.  All the figures that are telling them how to live, don’t even know how to live themselves.  They were told what to do while growing up, waited around to understand the world only to figure out that you can’t really understand things.  In the process they all found themselves in too deep in situations they wouldn’t have chosen when they were the same age as Sam and Suzy.
The people that rule this world are out of touch with their surroundings, their children, and most importantly themselves.  Some of them can’t even define themselves.  When asked this very question an adult answers automatically, just as he’s trained himself to do, only to come back a minute later and change his stance.  Why struggle with life only to wait around for uncertainty and to ultimately lose a grip on who you actually want to be?
Sam and Suzy have figured things out at a time in their lives when the world is still simple.  It’s not their own doing that will complicate things it’s that of the world around them.  Complication is forced upon them by the people who are pretending to know better.  This is not a tragedy like ‘Romeo & Juliet’ but Sam and Suzy are similarly victims of their situation.  The point here is that they don’t have to be.
Sam and Suzy have made a choice.  The adults of their world tell them they don’t understand the choices they are making because they can’t possibly, they’re too young.  Yet, it’s those same people who never understood the choices they made, and therefore lived to regret them.
Heavy themes run throughout this film but it’s not delivered with a heavy hand.  Anderson is deliberate but lighthearted.  He has some poignant and powerful imagery but doesn’t beat you over the head with it.  He’s not intentionally vague but doesn’t treat the viewer like an idiot either.
In short, this is one of the best films of the year and definitely worth your time.

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